Advice sought re: dovetailed splines for boxes

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Forum topic by Toolz posted 06-15-2010 05:05 PM 1862 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3918 days

06-15-2010 05:05 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question trick

Hi guys and gals. I have a couple of boxes ready to have the miters reinforced with splines. I thought making the splines as dovetails might be interesting. I will make a simple spline cutting jig like those I see here for simple splines but instead of cutting straight splines I will use my router table and cut dovetail grooves instead. Any suggestion as how to cut the long dovetailed spline material that can be later cut to length would be appreciated. The box bodies are walnut with a spalted maple top with various laminated hardwoods down the middle of the top.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

9 replies so far

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4300 days

#1 posted 06-15-2010 05:59 PM

I’d mount a dovetail bit in the router table, cut your spline along the side of a wider board (with the board held against the fence), then rip the spline off the board with your track or table saw (or a pull handsaw).

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 3130 days

#2 posted 06-15-2010 06:59 PM

Do you want to do this for structural or aesthetic reasons?

Personally, I’d go with a simple spline, and then inlay a small dovetail key at the joint. (The dovetail key would be straitforward to do with a chisel and a saw.)

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3918 days

#3 posted 06-15-2010 07:32 PM

Both actually. The main reason for dovetail splines is that I haven’t seen them done before to reinforce a box miter. I like Dan’s idea of routing one side then using my table saw with the blade tilted appropriately to release the spline. I will be using soft maple for the splines to make them stand out against the walnut.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4300 days

#4 posted 06-15-2010 07:54 PM

I was actually thinking you’d route both sides of the dovetail spline, with the wide end of the tail on the edge of the board and the sides up against the router table fence, and then just cut off the entire spline with your saw at its default 90°. Didn’t explain that very well. But that’d get you the angle dead-on, and let you tweak the thickness of the spline with the fence, making incrementally thinner passes ‘til you got it right.

And on my router table setup I can move one end of the fence, which means each tweak to an end of the fence where I don’t move the other end is twice the distance at the bit, so I can get really fine adjustments.

Then just glue the spline in place, and cut it off with a flush-cut saw.

I should do some drawings of what I mean. Or, if I can scrounge the shop time, just do it and take pictures.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3843 days

#5 posted 06-15-2010 08:03 PM

Are you making your box sides 1” thick or what. Last time I saw a dovetail router bit, it wasn’t exactly dainty.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3384 days

#6 posted 06-15-2010 08:08 PM

I have a Kehoe Jig that does a super job on this. The splines for the jig are cut on the table saw or chop saw. You might check the videos on their website.

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3752 days

#7 posted 06-15-2010 08:18 PM

I have a Kehoe also and the spline is cut with a simple jig set at 1degree used on a table saw. I think you could build one with a little trial and error. Just look at the demo and cut you slots on the router table and splines on the table saw. It seems I might have seen a shop built one on You tube.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View rance's profile


4264 posts in 3336 days

#8 posted 06-15-2010 08:52 PM

Table saw seems the safest, easiest, and most accurate to me. It would afford you the best accuracy given you may need to sneak up on the fit. BTW, wide face of the spline goes UP. Actually, cut them tight on the TS and then hand-sand the back(wide face) to custom fit to your desire.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3918 days

#9 posted 06-15-2010 10:00 PM

Thanks for all the advice folks. rhett: The box sides are a full 3/4” but I have several sizes of dovetail bits.
Dan: I see what you mean now…your second post seems a lot safer. I have a “small parts” holder for use with the router. I think I’ll cut them about six or seven inches long (whatever fits best in the jig) then chop them to length. Thanks for reminding me I bought that thing. LOL I have never used it and forgot I had it. I’ll try to remember to take the camera out to the shop and take pictures. Thanks again folks!

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

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